The liturgy, as more than one writer has observed, is “the faith of the Church in motion.” Liturgical texts, like Scripture, are an important source for theological reflection. We can learn a great deal by comparing these texts as they have evolved and as they have been rendered into one language after another. That process of selecting, revising and translating is also part of the liturgical action of the Church.
Matthew Hazell, a frequent commenter here on Pray Tell, has made a significant contribution to this study. He has compiled a scholarly but very accessible analysis of the postcommunion prayers from the Proper of Time. For each day – and he includes not only Sundays but also weekdays – he presents the Latin prayer in three versions of the Missale Romanum (1970, 1975, 2002), together with four different English translations:
- the interim translations published in 1972 by the National Liturgical Commission for England & Wales, permitted for use by the bishops of England & Wales at their Low Week meeting of the same year
- the ICEL translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica, approved by the bishops of England & Wales in 1973, and approved by the Holy See and published in 1974
- the ICEL translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica altera, submitted to the Holy See in 1998 but rejected in 2002
- the ICEL translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia emendata, approved by the Holy See in 2010 and published in 2011.
In addition, he analyses the older sources of each prayer, referring to the Tridentine Missal, Gelasian Sacramentary, Veronese Sacramentary, Mozarabic Sacramentary, etc. Hazell offers both the Latin text and an English rendering for each of the the predecessor prayers that he has identified. The work concludes with a set of analytical charts and tables showing which prayers have been edited, newly composed or centonised (built up from texts or ideas from previous prayers).
The entire project was clearly done with love and care; it a highly polished work, filled with useful reference notes. Hazell has offered his work to the public in a spirit of generosity (no charge for downloads) and humility (he encourages readers to send suggestions and corrections, e.g. to his translations of some of the source texts).
Starting with the postcommunion prayers was an inspired choice, because Hazell’s first published volume complements work already completed by Lauren Pristas (The Collects of the Roman Missals) and James G. Leachman OSB and Daniel P McCarthy OSB (Appreciating the Collect: An Irenic Methodology), among others.
Matthew Hazell’s work also complements the extremely useful text and translation cross-reference created by Jeffrey Pinyan, also a commenter here; this provides Latin texts and a range of translations for various parts of the Roman Missal.
The work involved in any project like this is far from trivial. This first volume extends for 151 pages, covering only the postcommunion prayers in the Proper of Time. I hope that there is much more to follow from this splendid start. All who turn to the texts of the liturgy for a better understanding of Christ and his church owe Matthew Hazell congratulations and deep thanks.
(Note: thanks also to Gregory DiPippo of New Liturgical Movement for pointing out this new publication).